Sunday, April 19, 2009


The idea of the choices we make in our lives came to mind today as I worked as part of a technical fire rescue team to help a young man who had become stranded on a cliff over 100 feet off the ground.

The young man and a friend made a relatively poor decision to climb the face of the cliff without the proper knowledge and equipment that would make it safe. As they climbed higher, the rocks became more and more loose. Unable to move up or down, he held on to a small bush until being lowered to safety. The rescue took more than three hours but thankfully, the outcome was not worse. His friend had not climbed as high and was able to climb down and alert rescuers.

Not every choice we make has the potential for fatal consequences, yet every time we make a choice, something else in our life is impacted. Many choices, picking cloths to wear, what to have for breakfast, have little potential of changing our lives. Other choices, however can impact us dramatically.

As humans, we have the opportunity to choose between things that will make us happy and things that will not. This being the case, it would seem that we would always choose happy. I wish that was the case. Also, if we do not take a minute to think about our choices first, we may make ones that seem like they will bring happiness, and they may initially, but in the end leave us in sorrow.

Think about the choices you have made in your life. I doubt that you intentionally made bad choices but there are likely some that you regret. Bad choices are one of life's greatest teachers. Providing the choice does not kill us, we have the opportunity to learn and not repeat harmful things over and over. For many reasons, we don't always learn these lessons easily.

Repeating harmful actions over and over develops patterns that become familiar. This is another word for addiction. We can be addicted to many things; food, smoking, drugs, anger. Even when we know the thing we are doing harms us, our actions become who we are, making it difficult to quit. We forget that we have choices.

The more understanding we have, both of ourselves and the world around us, the better we can decide which road to take whenever the road forks. When we consider the impact our decisions will have on us now but more importantly later, we will tend to make better choices. We must also consider the impact our decisions will have on others.

Aside from being a little embarrassed and sunburned, the young man I started this story with is fine. Had he fallen, the impact to his friends and family would have had long reaching consequences. I am sure he had not considered this before beginning his climb but perhaps he will next time.